Guess how many Irish people would ban Israelis from their homes

One in five!


The depth of anti-Israel and antisemitic feeling in Ireland has been revealed in a new study into pluralism in the country.

The report found that not only would one in five Irish people bar Israelis from becoming naturalised Irish citizens - but 11 per cent would stop all Jews taking up Irish citizenship.

The report, Pluralism and Diversity in Ireland, compiled by Father Micheál Mac Gréil, a Jesuit priest and sociologist, revealed that antisemitic sentiment was strongest in the 18 to 25 age range, with 46 per cent of the population claiming that they would not be willing to accept a Jewish person into their family.

The figure was higher than the "all ages" category, in which 40 per cent of Irish people said they would not want a Jew in their family. Only 48 per cent would accept an Israeli.

Collectively, Israelis had one of the lowest "favourable" ratings among Irish people, ranking 44th out of 51 categories including homosexuals, alcoholics and
travellers.

Fr Mac Gréil told the Irish Catholic newspaper: "There is a real danger that the public image of 'Israeli' can lead to an increase in antisemitism."

Relations between Israel and Ireland plummeted last year following the row over passports used in the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai. Ireland expelled an Israeli diplomat following the incident.

But Jason Molins, former captain of the Ireland cricket team, painted a different picture of the reception Irish Jews receive. He said: "If anything, I have had the opposite of what the figures show. I met and married an Irish girl who had a strong Catholic upbringing, but she converted to
Judaism.

"When I first met her family they did not know many Jewish people. They didn't know about Judaism, but they researched and learnt about it and welcomed me into the family.

"I'd like to know in what part of Ireland the study was carried out. Ireland has changed a lot in the past 10 years and has become massively more accommodating towards people from different ethnic backgrounds."

Tom Carew, of the Ireland-Israel Friendship League, said: "The Israeli Embassy in Dublin is the most picketed in the country with protesters from IRA break-away groups, Islamist elements and some church groups.

"But they are very small groups and it's the same names and faces all the time. Whether there's an anti-Israel feeling seeping into the public conscience I don't know. It may be a problem related to Arab propaganda in recent years."

The Israeli Embassy in Dublin did not comment on the findings.

The results are based on surveys carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute between November 2007 and March the following year. The book is the final part of Fr Mac Gréil's trilogy charting changes in Irish prejudice since 1972.

He found that attitudes towards gays were the most improved, but that prejudice towards travellers, drug addicts and alcoholics remained high, particularly among young Irish people.

Of course, there are exceptions

Bob Geldof has called for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to expand their minds to find a solution to the "rejectionism of now".

Addressing students and academics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where he was given an honorary doctoral degree on Monday, he said: "Only through education and the expansion of the mind can we relieve the siege of the soul, the ghetto of the mind."

The pop star in Israel for the first time, was honoured for his humanitarian work. As an Irishman, he said he was familiar with the complexity of the Israeli situation, but added: "I am certain that where it begins is in the expansion of the mind that enables creativity."

He was at the ceremony with historian Sir Martin Gilbert, and businessman Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, both of whom were given honorary degrees.

    Last updated: 12:14pm, June 2 2011